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Omega in Action

Omega in Action highlights inspiring people and organizations making meaningful change. From protecting the environment to empowering women, healing veterans, and serving nonprofits, you'll find fresh perspectives, trending news, and the latest information on noteworthy events here at Omega and around the world.

Omega CEO Responds to New York Times Article

3 years 2 weeks ago

Omega CEO, Robert "Skip" Backus, responded yesterday to a New York Times article covering local community reaction to the proposed upgrade of power lines in the Hudson Valley.

In the article titled, "With Power Comes Ambivalence," a number of residents—from farmers to homeowners and real estate agents to business owners—expressed deep concern about the possible economic, health, and environmental impact of the upgrade. They also shared how they are organizing to ensure their voices are heard in the development of the final proposal for the upgrade. 

In his response, Backus said, "We need to be sure to have a full and rich conversation about all the costs involved in this proposal. It’s easy to point out numbers concerning congestion costs to businesses and residents’ utility bills, but other short and long term costs are less transparent. Let’s be sure to understand what best serves all the communities both upstate and downstate."

Read the New York Times article and Skip Backus' full response

Learn more about No Monster Power Lines 

More Than 100 Walk to #BringBackOurGirls

3 years 2 weeks ago

This Mother's Day, the Omega Women's Leadership Center and a coalition of local organizations, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership at Val Kill and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Alliance, held an event at Walkway Over the Hudson in support of 276 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and their families. The girls were kidnapped four weeks ago by Islamic extremists.

The event began on the Poughkeepsie side of the Walkway at 10:00 a.m. More than 100 women, men, and children walked in concern for the fate of the young women in Nigeria and in solidarity for an end to violence against women and girls worldwide.

"It's not just a women's issue, it's a social issue, it's a global issue, it's a human rights issue, and we can't just sit by and not say something," said Carla Goldstein, cofounder of the Women's Leadership Center and chief external affairs officer at Omega Institute. 


Mother’s Day Walk to Send Solidarity Message to Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls

3 years 3 weeks ago

The Dutchess County Women’s Leadership Alliance & the Omega Women’s Leadership Center Announce Gathering at Walkway Over The Hudson this Sunday at 10 a.m.

RHINEBECK, NY – As the world watches and waits on the fate of 276 stolen Nigerian schoolgirls, organizations and concerned citizens around the world are speaking out this Mother’s Day to call for an end to violence against women and girls everywhere. In the Hudson Valley, concerned leaders are organizing an event at Walkway Over The Hudson this Sunday morning, May 11th, to send a message that what has happened in Nigeria cannot be ignored, and that they stand in solidarity with the mothers and girls of Nigeria. The event will begin on the Poughkeepsie side of the Walkway at 10 a.m.

“This is the worst shame. We are walking in moral outrage as once again girls’ rights are trampled on. Imagine their fear and horror and sense of isolation. We are there with them,” said Manuela Roosevelt, board chair of the Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership at Val Kill.

“Key to ending violence against women and girls is making it visible, and ensuring that it is culturally and legally intolerable,” said Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega Institute and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC). “This September we are hosting a program, Women/Men: The Next Conversation, that features global leaders working to end violence against women and girls. We could not stand by on Mother’s Day without connecting the dots.”

“The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Alliance (WLA) is proud to lend its support of this awareness and walk together to symbolize solidarity. The WLA each year holds events to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th,” said Gloria Cukar, Women’s Leadership Alliance liaison, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation's most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. The Omega Women’s Leadership Center is a special initiative of Omega. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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A Veteran's Experience of Healing

3 years 3 weeks ago

On April 16–20, Omega hosted the Costs of War, Violence & Denial retreat with Claude AnShin Thomas. In this intensive retreat for veterans living with post-traumatic stress, veterans, their families, and friends explored many different meditations as a path to healing.

During the program, participants were asked to write about something related to their wartime experience they had never told anyone. Afterward, 10 veterans got up and read their stories in front of the group, revealing how personal—and universal—their experiences were, and also how healing and bonding it was to share their stories with others. One Vietnam veteran shared his story online, where he reflected on bravery, opening up, and being human.

Learn more about one veteran’s experience in the program

Learn more about veterans initiatives at Omega

Keep Power Lines Within Current Footprint

3 years 3 weeks ago

Continuing their campaign against proposed power line expansion plans in upstate New York, Scenic Hudson and Omega Institute have had a letter to the editor published in the Albany Times Union. 

Signed by Omega CEO Robert “Skip” Backus and Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan, the letter says any plan to expand the state’s electricity transmission infrastructure must ensure power lines remain “within the footprint of existing infrastructure,” and urges “the [Public Service Commission] to accelerate selection of bidders that fully meet these goals.”

Doing so will allow farm, home, and business owners, whose properties abut or are in the viewshed of proposed utility expansion corridors, some much needed clarity on how their lives and properties will be affected in the future. 

Read the full letter to the editor.

Learn more about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

OWLC Attends the UN Commission on the Status of Women

3 years 1 month ago

Omega Women's Leadership (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, recently attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York City. This was the fifty-eighth annual session and included representatives of Member States, UN entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the world. This year's theme was "Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls."

The OWLC attended a pivotal session, "Open Dialogue on Beijing + 20," a discussion about the progress made in the almost 20 years since the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China. The session solidified a call to all duty bearers for unprecedented will and commitment to end gender inequality. It also highlighted UN Women's plan to create a "forward looking process that will galvanize diverse stakeholders: governments, parliamentarians, civil society, media, opinion leaders, the UN system, and the private sectors" around the following specific core objectives:

  • Renew political will, commitment, and concrete action by governments and all partners to accelerate implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Enhance social mobilization, awareness-raising, and revitalized public debate across all sectors of society
  • Strengthen evidence to increase knowledge and understanding of the structural causes of gender-based discrimination and inequality and of solutions and best practices
  • Invest in sufficient resources for achieving gender equality, women's rights, and women's empowerment

OWLC in Denver for Mediation Training

3 years 2 months ago

Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) director, Michele Bertran, participated in a conflict resolution training with InAccord Justice Centers to share information about Omega and the OWLC with others working for peaceful solutions and just outcomes. Held in Denver, Colorado, the training was attended by 22 participants from the United States and Nigeria interested in honing their mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice skills. Bertran said Omega's holistic worldview "that the well-being of each is connected to the well-being of all of us" really resonated with those who are actively working for peace and justice.

InAccord Justice Centers provides services and training in mediation, arbitration, and restorative justice through a collection of centers located globally. Their procedural conflict resolution model was developed by Mediators Without Borders. An "empirically based technique," it offers empowerment, transparency, and fairness, and incorporates research in achieving solutions to conflict.

Founder of InAccord Justice and Mediators Without Borders, Shauna Ries, organized the event and led the training. She and Michele Bertran are cofaculty for the upcoming OWLC workshop, Leading with Emotional Courage: How Empathy Can Heal, Inspire & Create Breakthroughs, from May 23-26.

Learn more about the 2014 OWLC workshops

Thank You: The PSC Responds to Community Input

3 years 3 months ago

Dear Friends,

I want to thank all of you who took the time to post a comment concerning the construction of transmission power lines. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has clearly heard and responded to our concerns.

The PSC will encourage transmission line developers to conform their proposals to Governor Cuomo’s policy that any new power lines stay completely within existing developed corridors.

While this is a move in the right direction, there is still a long process ahead of us with what I am sure are many twists and turns. I honor the PSC’s commitment to open process and their desire to reach the highest and best solution, keeping in mind our concerns for both the economy and the environment.

Thank you once again for your commitment to protecting the Hudson Valley's natural assets, communities, and businesses. I will stay in touch as this important issue unfolds.

With appreciation,

Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute 

Omega Rises for Women

3 years 3 months ago
On February 14th, the Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) participated in Hudson Valley Rising's 2nd Annual One Billion Rising event at State Universtity of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. The event was held in conjunction with V-Day's worldwide One Billion Rising, calling for the end of violence against women and girls, and provided an opportunity for local students to come together with residents of all ages in the community to stand up for a common cause.  
Co-organizer Mary Goggin was inspired to found Hudson Valley Rising when she heard Eve Ensler's public announcement of One Billion Rising at Omega's Women & Power Conference in 2012, where Goggin was a partipant. Co-organizer Johanna Longbotham noted that the event took root in the community this year. "There were boys and men here. I feel the impact deepening."
More than 250 men, women, and children of all ages were in attendance. Families, coworkers, and community activists milled and danced before Goggin enthusiastically welcomed attendees. Assistant District Attorney of Ulster County Elizabeth Culmone spoke about the predicament of women and children facing domestic violence, a One Billion Rising video was played depicting global women rising in collective survival and triumph, and a flashmob of the anthem "Break the Chain" was led by SUNY Residence Life Director Corinna Caracci. Finally, Drew's Energy Dance Company from Kingston offered dance lessons and Hudson River Playback Theatre reflected on attendees' experiences of the event through improvisational theater and music. 
OWLC manager Sarah Urech said that in spite of "enormous piles of snow everywhere," the event was a success. She continued, "I feel so moved to be part of it, as an OWLC representative, a dancer, a supporter, and a performer with Hudson River Playback Theatre. RISING feels different than fighting, or protesting. All of these actions are important, but there is something about framing this as RISING that makes my heart sing, lifting me out of the sorrow and rage, and letting my spirit soar." 

CEO Request: Immediate Action Needed on Behalf of Omega & the Hudson Valley

3 years 3 months ago

Please help preserve Omega’s Campus and the environmental health, cultural heritage, and beauty of the Hudson Valley.

Every voice counts—especially now!

Dear Friends:

As the CEO of Omega Institute, I am writing to urge you to stand together with us to protect the Hudson Valley and the Omega Rhinebeck campus. You can help by adding your voice to the public comments before Thursday, February 20, by clicking on the link below in the “What You Can Do” section of this email.

First, let me explain. We have joined the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition to avert the new construction of outdated high-voltage power lines that could forever damage the Hudson Valley’s natural assets, communities, and businesses—including Omega’s Rhinebeck campus. Four proposals are in a competitive process, seeking to build power lines with towers that could reach a height of 165 feet. In total, the proposed projects could span 150 miles and pass through 13 counties and 38 towns—including 24 towns in the Hudson Valley.

One of the proposals under consideration would run new lines through the Omega campus, taking down tree lines and impacting the overall natural beauty of our Rhinebeck home.

Community feedback to the Public Service Commission (PSC) is critical at this juncture. The PSC will meet on Thursday, February 20, to decide how and if the proposed Hudson Valley projects will comply with the Governor's recommendation to keep power upgrades within existing power lines footprint.

What You Can Do

I am asking you as a member of the Omega community to add your voice to the public comments Here are three easy ways to help by using our model comments below (electronic submission is fastest):

  • Submit comments electronically—post your comments here, and see others' comments here
  • Email the PSC at
  • Mail comments to the Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, New York State Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350.

Model Comments:

Please send comments below as is—or increase the impact of your comments by putting them in your own words.

  • I agree with Gov. Cuomo's recommendation that transmission upgrade projects should remain entirely within existing rights-of-way in length, height, and width. If power lines must be constructed, this is clearly the best way to minimize landowner and environmental impacts.
  • I urge the PSC to solicit proposals for demand-side management, newer micro-grid technology, and environmentally sound local power generation in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City to replace the need for more traditional power line infrastructure.

Thank you! Your effort means a lot and we appreciate you helping Omega protect and preserve our Rhinebeck campus and the Hudson Valley.

By submitting your comments you're joining concerned citizens who know that a healthy and beautiful Hudson Valley is important for our quality of life and for lasting economic opportunity for us and future generations.

With appreciation,

Robert "Skip" Backus
Chief Executive Officer
Omega Institute


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